I know what I’m about to say is going to ruin my already shaky geek cred, but I just need to get it off my chest.
I’m over Zombies.
I feel like they’ve been a little played out. Sure, there are always going to be some clever new ways of handling them, and those always excite me. I know one writer that is putting a pretty good spin on the zombie apocalypse story, but for the most part, zombies are starting to feel like orcs.
Let me explain.
The other day, I was following along on the twitter #RPGChat, when I saw this in the tweet-stream:
This spawned a conversation about the nature of storytelling and gaming, with emphasis on the difference between worlds that are “Black and White” versus worlds that are all shades of gray. Finally, after a pretty long, and tasty discussion, which ultimately led to one decision:
There can be no real plot without internal conflict. Ultimately, all stories should be about man versus himself. He should have to decide right from long and live with those consequences. In a world where the bad guy is always obviously evil, there is no conflict. Good destroys evil and we all go home happy but unfulfilled.
A brilliant revelation for me as a fledgling writer, and one that I’m sure all of my favorite authors figured out eons ago.
Then, I thought about Zombies.
Zombies Create No Real Conflict
One of the reasons that Zombie movies have been successful in the past is because most of the truly great Zombie writers new that Zombies themselves where boring. Look at the original Night of the Living Dead. I know all that McCarthy-era crap about zombies being Communist Russia and destroying American lives, but all of that bullshit came later. It didn’t pop up until Romero was getting his salad tossed by his cult following. It is obvious in his later movies, but it isn’t there in the original. The original movie wasn’t about Communism. It was about how much people suck giant balls.
Every single person in this movie is a caricature of shitty living. They die because they all deserve to die. Except for the hero, Ben. He dies because Romero hates humanity and wanted you to know it. I can relate at time.
For the most part, Zombie movies (and good zombie books) have followed suit ever since. They focus on the Zombies being a catalyst for people destroying each other. They do it because people suck. If people suck too much, the Zombies win. If people can overcome their general uselessness, zombies lose. It’s a pretty simple formula, and a good writer can do amazing things with a simple formula. It’s a plot that lets you forget about plot and explore characters.
I like that.
The problem is, zombies are becoming more and more prominent in the world. When something starts to get too popular, it turns to garbage.
That’s the curse of American media, I think. I blame us. It’s entirely our fault. (Story Idea: A group of movie executives get eaten by zombies. Everyone cheers.)
We take an idea, distill it to a strong extract and then use that extract to flavor every beverage and cake that comes out of the kitchen until we all realize that drinking straight vanilla is bad for us… you know, usually after one of us has gone blind.
Zombies are in that stage now.
Sure there have been some really clever uses of zombies in the Book and Movie world in the last few years, but those are over. They’ve been homogenized. They’re ready for mass consumption. No where is this sad fact more obvious than in the upcoming World War Z movie.
Listen. Here’s a secret I’ve learned over the years: If the writer of the book the movie is based on “washes his hands of it,” then it’s probably going to suck giant balls.
Max Brooks washed his hands of the movie adaptation before principal filming began. Not a good sign, really.
What made the book World War Z great was two fold: 1) it took place after humanity rallied and kicked Undead-Heiny, and 2) It focuses exclusively on the character stories with very little involvement of the Cardiovascularly Challenged. It was a great book about people in a messed up situation.
The movie is Brad Pitt fights Zombies. I’m pretty sure even Brad Pitt thinks it will suck.
And thus signifies the end of Zombie Story Telling for a while.
That’s okay, though. We’re still feasting on the glut of Vampires and Fairy Tales. Pretty soon, we’ll start rendering the BDSM lifestyle into culturally acceptable hunks as well, finally finishing what Rosie O’Donnel and Dan Akroyd almost 20 years ago.
That reminds me, I should start thinking about hosting a 20th Anniversary “Exit to Eden” party. Something like that can’t just be thrown together in a few months like a wedding. It’s going to take some serious time.
I’m beginning to think Dan Akroyd has more to do with my sex life than I would like to admit….
Until Next time,